Caffeine is not added creativity

Creativity in solving problems can not be enhanced by caffeine. To such conclusion the American scientists who conducted an experiment in which participants, adopting either 200 milligrams of caffeine or a placebo, and passed a series of tests on creativity, the ability to rapid problem solving and working memory. Caffeine, despite the fact that helped to increase productivity, not increased creativity and did not affect working memory. A study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.

Caffeine (one of the main active components not only coffee but also tea and cocoa butter) is considered one of the most common Central nervous system stimulants. The effects are mostly psychoactive: the consumption of caffeine is known to increase drowsiness and improving concentration and reaction time. This effect, however, is not long (on average — couple of hours), poorly recoverable (after reaching a certain threshold of drinking coffee for more energy already pointless), and not without negative consequences: excessive caffeine use can cause a psychotic state in healthy individuals and worsen it in some psychiatric disorders (e.g., schizophrenia).

Often caffeine is used to increase productivity as due to its refreshing effect and its impact on cognitive abilities. Productivity, however, is variable, multifactorial, and the caffeine intake could affect each of its parts. Darya Zabelina (Darya Zabelina) from the University of Arkansas and Paul Sylvia (Paul Silvia) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro decided to focus on how caffeine affects productivity in the solution of creative tasks.

To do this, they conducted an experiment, which was attended by 88 volunteers: they all consume caffeine in moderation, mostly about two cups of coffee per day. Before the experiment participants were asked to refrain from caffeine-containing beverages and foods, and on the day of the study they were divided into two groups: in one the participants took 200 milligrams of caffeine in a capsule, and the second — the same capsule with placebo.

Before taking the capsules and within 20 minutes after (the time necessary for a substance to act) participants filled out surveys about their mood. In 20 minutes after taking either caffeine or placebo, participants performed three tests. The first test for divergente, or creative thinking: in this the participants were asked to make a list of problems that can occur in a person moving on the ground or air without any transportation. Creativity in this test is measured by two parameters: the number of responses and how they are new compared to those given by other participants.

The second test for convergent thinking, that is, the ability to rapid problem solving. In this test, participants were given three words which they had to find something in common: for example, sharing a word or common lexical features (e.g., three words could be synonyms). Finally, in the third test evaluated working memory of the participants: they had to remember and reproduce the appear on the word screen depending on the category (for example, to recall the words that belong to the category “animals”). In addition, participants were also asked to rate their own attitude to the consumption of caffeine, for example, to answer the question of whether they think that coffee or other caffeinated drinks make them more productive.

Active participants from the experimental group (those who took the caffeine) decided much more on convergent thinking than the group that took placebo (p = 0,021). On the other hand, divergent thinking caffeine is not affected: results for both groups were not statistically different (p > 0,4). Caffeine did not affect working memory (p = 0,679). At the same time, believed if the participants that they are taking either caffeine or placebo, the results are not affected.

The researchers thus showed that caffeine may actually improve productivity in solving problems, but does not affect creative thinking. This effect is quite understandable: research shows that increased creativity is associated with brain activity in the alpha band, characteristic for the state of quiet wakefulness. Caffeine, being a stimulant, inhibits the activity in the alpha range, which apparently leads to a decrease in creativity.

Creative thinking does not help the music: it was a year ago found British researchers. It concerns, however, only the tasks associated with the language.

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